Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi, Gujarat to the nation today.
This is a tribute to the 80 marchers who accompanied Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati to Dandi in 1930.
National Salt Satyagraha Memorial
The Memorial is spread over an area of 15 acres near the sea coast at Dandi, Navsari, Gujarat.
Sculptor Sadashiv Sathe has created a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi which is 15 ft high.
Sculptures of 80 Dandi Marchers have also been created.
The Art Memorial features a 40-metre high crystal tower with crystals made in glass, symbolizing the importance of salt.
An artificial lake has been created in an area of about 14,000 Sq m; 24 narrative murals depict the journey of the Salt Satyagraha.
The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and has been built in collaboration with the IIT Bombay.
The project was announced by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 during the 75th anniversary of the Dandi Salt March movement.
The Salt Satyagraha
Before commencing the Dandi March on 2 March, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a letter to the Viceroy, describing India’s ruination under British Rule. He also notified him about his intention to launch a civil disobedience movement by symbolically breaking the Salt Tax law.
In Gandhi’s opinion, this was “the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint.”
Gandhiji selected Dandi as the place for the Salt Satyagraha. He decided to march 241 miles, from his ashram in Ahmedabad on 12 March, 1930.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s arrest at Ras on 7 March added fuel to the fire.
Two days later, as many as 75,000 people attended a mammoth meeting on the sands of the Sabarmati.
The crowd vowed, in Gandhiji’s presence, to tread the same path Sardar Vallabhai had trod and not to rest in peace till freedom for the nation was achieved.
On 11 March, the crowd swelled to 10,000 and Gandhiji delivered a memorable speech:
This will be my last speech to you. Even if the Government allow me to march tomorrow morning, this will be my last speech on the sacred banks of the Sabarmati. Possibly, these may be the last words of my life here.
The March Begins
Mahatma Gandhi led 78 satyagrahis from the ashram premises on the banks of the river Sabarmati, Ahmedabad, at 6.30 in the morning.
The satyagraha saw participation of both men and women from all over the country including two Muslims, one Christian and two Harijans.
The first day’s march ended at Aslali, 13 miles from Ahmedabad.
The March Goes on
The satyagrahis walked 10 miles or more everyday; they commenced punctually at 5.30 a.m.
During his speeches, Gandhiji exhorted people to join in large numbers, boycott foreign cloth, adopt Khadi and desist from the evil of drinking. He advised women who wanted to join the struggle, to take up the picketing of liquor shops and foreign cloth shops.
Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru met Gandhiji at Jambusar and also marched a little distance with him. Later, Motilal Nehru gifted Anand Bhavan, their ancestral house at Allahabad, to the nation.
The field of battle lies before you, the flag of India beckons to you, and freedom herself awaits your coming.
– Jawaharlal Nehru
The March Ends
The long 241-mile trek finally ended on April 5, 1930.
The next day began with prayers and Gandhiji nominated Abbas Tyabji and Sarojni Naidu to lead the satyagraha if he was arrested.
After prayers, Mahatma Gandhi with his followers took a bath in the sea.
Then, he defied the Salt Law by picking up a lump of salt.
Millions broke the Salt Law and courted imprisonment. Salt depots were raided everywhere and the manufacture of illicit salt was undertaken.
The Government replied by unleashing a reign of terror. By the end of March, over 95,000 were jailed. Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested on 14 April while Mahatma Gnadhi was imprisoned on 4 May.
The spark that the Dandi March ignited, soon kindled the flames of a movement that engulfed the entire nation and finally achieved Independence for India.